Since 2001, Oceana has achieved hundreds of concrete policy victories for marine life and habitats. From stopping bottom trawling in sensitive habitat areas to protecting sea turtles from commercial fishing gear, our victories represent a new hope for the world's oceans.
1,400 Square Kilometers in the Balearic Islands Protected from Destructive Fishing
After four years of Oceana’s campaigning for increased protections, Spain announced a ban on bottom trawling and other destructive fishing methods in a 1,400 square kilometer region between Mallorca and Menorca. The Spanish government also expanded the protected area in Fort d’en Moreu, a vibrant reef to the east of Cabrera that has been threatened by illegal trawling activity. The Spanish government’s compliance with EU legislation and action to protect valuable seascapes signifies a critical step towards securing greater protections – important for both habitat preservation and healthy marine ecosystems – in Spanish waters.
Forage Fish in Oregon Win Significant Protections
After campaigning by Oceana and its allies, the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission adopted a forage fish management plan for hundreds of small, schooling fish in state waters (0-3 miles from shore). This management plan mirrors action taken in 2015 by the Pacific Fishery Management Council to protect forage fish from new commercial development and builds on the National Marine Fisheries Service’s regulations to protect forage fish in federal waters off the coasts of Washington, Oregon and California (from 3-200 nautical miles). Forage fish are critical to healthy marine food webs and are threatened by overfishing due to increasing demand for fishmeal. These new measures will help ensure no new commercial fisheries for these small fish will be developed without careful consideration and science-based management.
Government renews funding, seeks collaboration for Benham Rise research
Government and university officials announced renewed funding for research in Benham Rise, a largely unexplored seamount off northeastern Luzon, at a forum in September capping the successful visit of Oceana senior advisor Alexandra Cousteau to the Philippines. Oceana helped lead an expedition to Benham Rise in May and provided video equipment and technical divers to document deep sea reefs in Benham Bank, the shallowest portion of the undersea plateau. Fisheries and science officials stressed the importance of collaborative efforts, as researchers noted that the number of fish species recorded had tripled from the first cruise in 2014 and Benham Rise holds significant opportunities for fisheries productivity.
Chilean Government Officially Decrees the Creation of the Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park
The official designation of the Nazca-Desventuradas Marine Park comes after years of campaigning by Oceana and its allies. In 2013, a joint Oceana and National Geographic expedition to the Desventuradas Islands uncovered extraordinary levels of biodiversity in the previously unknown seas surrounding these islands. Following the expedition, Oceana released a report on the findings and a proposal for the regions protection. Chilean President Michelle Bachelet announced the intention to create a fully-protected marine park – the largest in the Americas – at the 2015 Our Ocean conference in Valparaiso, Chile.
Government Finalizes Safety and Prevention Rules for Arctic Ocean Exploration Drilling
After advocacy from Oceana and its allies, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement (BSEE) finalized rules to improve spill prevention and response requirements for oil and gas exploration drilling in the U.S. Arctic Ocean. The new rules apply to companies conducting new offshore oil exploration in the remote region and require companies to have a backup rig and emergency response equipment nearby in the event of a spill or accident. They also necessitate that oil companies be able to monitor and quickly respond to dangerous Arctic weather conditions such as sea ice and storms. The Arctic rules are the result of the agencies’ work to address the lessons learned after Shell’s failed 2012 drilling efforts in the Arctic Ocean and BP’s failure to contain the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Oceana supports the implementation of these critical and overdue rules and encourages the government to use them as a starting point for greater reform of the regulations governing offshore oil and gas planning, leasing and exploration.
Deep-Sea Trawling Ban Protects 4.9 Million Square Kilometers in European Oceans
Oceana in Europe campaigned with our colleagues in the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition for the prohibition of deep sea bottom trawling in the North East Atlantic waters. This victory provides increased protection for vulnerable marine ecosystems and deep-sea sharks. The European Parliament, Council and Commission reached an agreement that bans all trawling below 800m depth and that stops bottom fishing activity below 400m if the presence of vulnerable marine ecosystems is demonstrated. These actions protect 4.9 million km2 – an area larger than the EU itself.
Chile Announces Density Reduction Plan for Salmon Industry
The Chilean government, after campaigning by Oceana, announced a density reduction plan for the country’s salmon industry. Salmon pens with high density—large numbers of fish in a small space—have been subject to the rapid spread of diseases and parasites. Salmon farming areas with poor sanitary measures and a high prevalence of diseases in the past year will have to reduce their density by half. It is estimated that with effective implementation of this plan, total density will be reduced by one third by the end of 2016, improving sanitary conditions and reducing the risk of disease outbreaks. Oceana has been advocating for the reduction of antibiotics and calling for density reduction and improved sanitary conditions in the industry. Oceana was invited to present before the Commission of Environment in the Chilean Senate regarding malpractice in salmon aquaculture, focusing on high antibiotic use.
Oceana Wins Habitat Protections in the Strait of Sicily
Following campaigning by Oceana, three Fisheries Restricted Areas were created by the General Fisheries Commission for the Mediterranean (GFCM) in the Strait of Sicily, protecting 1,493 square km between Italy, Malta and Tunisia from bottom trawling and preserving nursery areas for hake and deep-sea rose shrimp. The commission also prohibited commercial harvest of red coral. These decisions will help protect vulnerable habitats and allow fisheries in these important Mediterranean marine ecosystems to recover.
Court of Appeals Orders Sernapesca to Provide Information about Antibiotics Used in the Salmon Farming Industry in Chile
In response to an Oceana filing, the Court of Appeals of Santiago ordered the National Fisheries and Aquaculture Service of Chile (Sernapesca) to publish information, disaggregated by company, concerning the use of antibiotics in Chilean salmon farming. Oceana filed a claim for the public disclosure of information after 37 companies and Sernapesca refused to disclose antibiotics data on the grounds of “competitive and business risk.” In compliance with the court order, Sernapesca released a report on company’s use of antibiotics in the salmon farming industry throughout 2015. Although additional information and statistics are needed to thoroughly analyze and assess industry operation, the report’s release sets an important precedent for access to public information. Citizens and stakeholders can use this information to demand more responsible management and aquaculture practices.
Pacific Loggerhead Conservation Area Closed to Drift Gillnets to Protect Sea Turtles
On May 19, Oceana and its partners requested NOAA Fisheries meet its legal responsibility to close Southern California waters from swordfish drift gillnets to protect endangered loggerhead sea turtles. Unusually warm ocean waters – triggered by El Niño conditions – have brought young loggerhead sea turtles into southern California waters to feast on small, pelagic red crabs. Once the sea turtles arrive off the California coast, they risk drowning from entanglement in mile-long nets. NOAA Fisheries closed the Pacific Loggerhead Conservation Area on June 1 as requested.